Throne of Blood

In his audacious adaptation of Macbeth, Kurosawa captures the power and emotional grandeur of the original without using a word of Shakespeare's language, instead relying on the aesthetics of Noh theater and his own visual and cinematic invention to brilliantly evoke the Bard's themes of destruction, guilt, and overwhelming greed. Lords, warriors, witches, wives, and the prophesies that bind and bloody them make up the narrative, but the film's true force comes from its claustrophobic, paranoia-inducing milieu of darkened forests, low-ceilinged castles, and a drifting fog that chillingly haunts every frame. Toshiro Mifune brings his Macbeth to life with a concentrated physicality, using every gesture and glance to become a man possessed, then destroyed, by a dream of power. “Besides that it has the great Isuzu Yamada washing her bloody hands,” wrote an admiring Pauline Kael, “and West or East, there may never be a more chilling Lady Macbeth.”

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